Overcoming The Fear of Filing Bankruptcy


Filing bankruptcy is scary on many fronts. I know because I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and I talk to bankruptcy clients every day. I also have had financial problems like most everyone else and I was pretty scared at the time. I thought about filing bankruptcy. I have to admit it was a very frightening thought. I really believed that my life for all practical purposes would end in humiliation and despair. I believed that everyone would look at me and talk and snicker. That it would be in the newspapers and my parents would disown me and that I would die lonely because no one would ever speak to me again. Forget about ever getting another date. They probably wouldn’t even let me adopt a cat.

At that time, I couldn’t put my finger on why the thought of filing Bankruptcy was so HORRIFYING. I wasn’t doing this job so I did not have the same feedback. But now I know why the idea of bankruptcy is so scary. I also know now why it is such an irony that the solution to so many really scary things causes us such apprehension. The reason is simple. It is an assault on our pride. A blow to our ego. There is no other reason to fear such a remarkably effective solution to real tragedy (like, say, having your wages garnished, being sued, losing your home, not having money to eat, dying from stress, going insane, etc.) Pride is one of the seven deadly sins because it causes us to do things that we should not. It also causes us NOT TO DO THINGS THAT WE SHOULD.

Based on my conversations with some of the all time most wonderful people I know- our bankruptcy clients (way cooler-and fun- than any of my lawyer friends) I have concluded that bankruptcy is looked at in the negative. I know people are reading this last line and thinking “duh-yeah!” But in my world I don’t think it is so straight forward. Because I see fearful, distressed, sad, stressed out, suicidal, miserable, guilt ridden, angry people made better by bankruptcy. Not just a little better, either. A lot better. The “I can’t believe it but I actually have peace of mind!” kind of better. I run into people at the grocery store who tell me life has never been so good. I wouldn’t normally believe them because I knew them. They were our client. They were people who came into our office eight months earlier and seriously made us think we should call the suicide hot line. But their faces, their demeanor and their attitude scream (no lie, their energy “screams”) that they are well. They are fixed. That the life they had that was spiraling downward out of the sky did not crash and burn. That something took the controls and managed to pull it back up seconds before the fiery fateful collision- moments before they came to that dark place that is not known but dreaded. That something was the law of Bankruptcy!

It was probably something greater that took them to the acceptance that bankruptcy was the only thing that could right their lives at this point. But that is beyond this discussion. Everybody’s bottom is at a different level. The only question is how much suffering does a person endure and make their family endure until they embrace the solution. I am a simple man. I think financial problems have a simple solution. That solution is bankruptcy.

So, no, you are not a loser if you need bankruptcy and use it. You will be a winner. Trust me, I know. We are not dealing with kids or irresponsible adults who went crazy at the mall and want to skate out of debt. Not in this world. Not now. In these times, people are struggling to eat; to drive to work; to live. And, no, you are not the only one who is in this much financial trouble. You only think you are because they don’t make television sitcoms about the pretty people living in California hanging out at the beach filling out their bankruptcy petition. YOUR FINANCIAL PROBLEM IS TEMPORARY. YOU WILL GET BACK ON YOUR FEET. You just need a little breathing room. If you let it cause you health problems- those may be permanent. General Motors is a prime example. They went bankrupt in 2009. In 2011 they made record profits.

So what’s my point? Don’t listen to other people’s opinions because they are only parading their ignorance. Don’t be proud because pride is the mask of a fool. Don’t be afraid because there is a solution to financial distress. Don’t think you’re the only one because that’s just other people lying to you. Don’t be idle because if you are you’ll never be free from the financial craziness, harassment, emotional turmoil and debt collector head games. And do be positive because winning is a state of mind not a state of financial wealth. Get your peace!

Robert C. Biales

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